GOBABIS, 18 JUNE – Primary and secondary agricultural production’s contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has been declining over the past years, Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein has said.
He said this is a result of a rise in imported products in the agriculture sector, combined with an equally large number of exports of products where no value addition takes place.
The minister made the remarks when he officially opened an Agribank branch in Gobabis on Friday, a statement issued by his office on Monday stated.
Schlettwein said statistics compiled by the United Nations and published by the World Bank indicate that Namibia imports beef and beef products to the value of about N.dollars 500 million; animal feed to the value of about N.dollars 700 million, and N.dollars 550 million worth of dairy products.
“Namibia thus imports a combination of meat and dairy products valued at just under N.dollars 2 billion, thus short-changing the country’s value chain as Namibia essentially re-imports the processed products from its basic agricultural produce that it has exported raw or unprocessed,” he said.
The minister noted that the selling of weaners on-the-hoof outside Namibia’s borders leads to a reduction in the country’s productive capacity in the overall beef sector.
“Such a situation undermines our ambitions as encapsulated in the Growth at Home Strategy and our overall National Industrial Policy, whose main tenets are centered on value addition and not the exporting of unprocessed produce or raw materials,” he said.
Describing the situation as ‘a worrisome trend’, the minister said the country requires a coherent and multidimensional set of actions to achieve the shared prosperity for an industrialised economy in line with the aspiration of Vision 2030.
“We need, for example in the agricultural sector, to zoom in as to why the prices set at farm gate are low, necessitating the need to correct the wrongs. Namibia has the capacity to feed its nation; and moreover an obligation to do so.
“And again, I want to cite that this requires deliberately targeted, coherent policies, positively affecting the agricultural and finance sectors,” the minister noted.
Schlettwein said at independence, Namibia produced less than 5 per cent of the country’s fresh produce but that today, however, some 50 per cent of Namibia’s fresh produce is “grown at home”, made possible by implementing the Market Share Promotion (MSP) policy in 2005.
He noted that the success of the MSP in the fresh produce sector can also be replicated in the livestock sector in order to maximise returns for local farmers.